Facing the repercussions of a slow economy and a weak job market, many Millennials are stretched thin with debt and average wages 20 percent below those of their predecessors at the same life stage. To put that in perspective, young adult workers are earning an annual median salary of $40,500, approximately $10,000 less than young workers in 1989. Independent of inflation rates, this decline indicates that Millennials may not ever out-earn their parents, making them the first working generation not to do so.
Their financial struggles don’t stop there. According to a study by MoneyUnder30, 47 percent of Millennials carry student loan debt, 51 percent have a mortgage, 31 percent have credit card debt and 26 percent have an auto loan. Overall, Millennials hold nearly $1.1 trillion of the country’s record $3.6 trillion of consumer debt — an exorbitant amount for a single generation. As a result, 54 percent of Millennials claim they are unable to save for their futures. They aren’t hopeful about assistance come retirement, either, with 51 percent admitting they don’t believe there will be any funds left for them in the Social Security system by the time they are ready to retire.
This grim outlook on fiscal well-being sets the stage for Millennials’ attitudes and behaviors in the health care and health insurance markets. In addition to worrying about paying today’s bills and preparing for tomorrow’s unknowns, Millennials are concerned about potential changes to come in these industries. Who can blame them? Too young to fully comprehend the system that came before former President Barack Obama’s health care law, their perception is that government and big business determine how to provide coverage, oversight that may not always be in the interest of the people.
As such, their views of health care providers and health insurers are relatively fluid, and their emphasis on self-care and health preservation is much greater than previous generations. In fact, where Millennials appear to lag behind in managing their finances and assets, they are proactive in their approach to health. Yet as well-intentioned as they are, Millennials still have larger knowledge gaps than other generations when it comes to understanding the intricacies of the traditional health care system as it exists today. This is where health care and health insurance brands must step in to establish consistent rapport and build relational trust, as Millennials are a consumer group representing a substantial revenue opportunity for such brands.
For both health care and health insurance brands, there are several lessons to take home to reach Millennial consumers who fall under both the Member and Customer mindsets.
Consumer positivity in health care does exist
Over the past decade, the health care category has been closely tied to the political agenda, including the controversies and disagreements. One might expect individuals to have a more negative outlook when it comes to their interactions with health care providers or their insurance carriers. However, on an individual level, we found Millennial respondents overall were actually content and relatively satisfied with their personal health care experiences as long as everything “works the way it should.”
There are clear and separate expectations for providers and carriers
While they would like coverage and processing to work smoothly in the background, respondents prefer to keep their relationships and engagements with their carrier and physician distinctly separate. They lean into health care professionals for health and well-being information (and conversely away from carriers who try too hard to push the same guidance). Carriers are valued for a transparent dissemination of financial detail and how best to navigate and maximize plan benefits.
Consumer engagement has a hard drop-off following appointments
Overall, Millennials feel more engaged with health care when they need health care. If they are granted access to the solutions they seek, they will ultimately feel confident and supported in their health care journey – more intensely so than members of other generations. This engagement and feeling of support drops off significantly when they head home from appointments, however. The key difference between being a patient and being a member is that they feel they must motivate themselves to be more actively engaged with carriers out of self-interest, whereas they are more likely to passively engage with with and follow a doctor’s lead.